The wait began. They told us that we need to keep our phones close, as they can call anytime, night or day. They also can’t wait too long to get hold of us, as they are working on a tight schedule to have the organs transplanted in time. If you don’t answer your phone after the second call, they (unfortunately) move on to the next recipient on the list.
Then, 5 May 2019, Sunday afternoon, while having an early dinner at Hanru’s parents, his phone rang! Caller I.D: “Penny Milpark” (the Co-Ordinator). “Mr. Nel, we have a heart available for you. Can you please make your way as fast as possible to Milpark Hospital? Go to ward so & and so…” Short and to the point. No time to waist. Everything is happening at once, everyone is happy that there is a heart available. Pack our bags to go to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg as fast as possible. Arrangements for the kids. Greet everyone.
A lot goes through your mind. This was quick, Hanru only waited 3 months for the heart? Other people wait years. Are we doing the right thing? Will it be worth it?
We arrived safely at the hospital at about 22:00 Sunday night. The Transplant Team knows what they are doing. Everyone is expecting us. Everything in place. The nurses do all the necessary prep work. The Psychiatrist come to see us briefly. The heart come from another town.
Once it arrives they will do some more test and the Hanru will go to theatre.
At 03:00 we hear a helicopter over the hospital. Is it the new heart? Then you think about the person you are getting your heart from. Is he also a farther, a brother, a husband? What happened to him? You feel guilty – having to get a heart while someone else had to die. But this was also discussed during the work ups when we first met with the Psychiatrist. You can’t see it that someone died for you. It was their time to go, and they made the selfless decision to donate organs so more people can have a healthy, better life.
Then, one of the doctors & the Psychiatrist came into the room. Well, this is it! Hanru is going to be operated to get his new heart!
The news is devastating, unfortunately, although everything else fitted Hanru’s portfolio, this heart won’t work for him. “Your body will reject the new heart, and you will die.” No sugar coating, straight facts. The tests that were done on the heart when it arrived at Milpark showed that Hanru’s immune system will reject this heart.
We can go home. Go on with our life. Wait for a phone call. That entire week we felt like someone in our family died.
But life goes on…
By Marzanne Nel